Running around at the speed of sound back into my heart.
Many Christmases ago, my family and I were on a trip, and that was where I got my first ever console, the Game Boy Advance. What was the first videogame I ever got, you ask? As far as I remember, it was Sonic Advance. That was when I first fell in love with the blue blur. I have distinct memories of playing through the first Sonic games on some weird Shockwave program that somehow allowed me to play them for free, playing Adventure DX on my dad’s laptop on weekends away and, more recently, having a blast with Sonic Generations. I may not be the biggest Sonic fan, but certainly, it being the fastest thing alive is a key figure in my gaming life.
So when I saw the Sonic Mania trailer a few days back, my mind was blown.
Everything about that trailer was perfect. The pacing of that initial part going through Sonic’s history was genuinely moving, since seeing his past all leading up to now is quite powerful; but then the bass suddenly drops on the Hyper Potions and Nitro Fun track, and we are shown a classic styled but new looking Sonic waiting for us to run with him, and it all starts speeding up. The trailer then moves on to show us the brand new game in all of its glory. The wonderful music swells and shows us all the new bells and whistles of the game while still paying a lot of homage to the Sonic games of yesteryear. The new mechanic of drop dashing is a great iteration/evolution of the classic games, and to have remixes of old classic levels and new ones that fall thematically in line with the retro games is genius. In short, the game and the trailer itself are fantastic and should be enough of a reason for me to love the Sonic series again.
Yet, there are many other factors behind me falling for Sega’s flagship franchise through Sonic Mania, apart from the fantastic trailer. The first of these factors to consider is my latent adoration for the series that has been dormant for a while. Again, I haven’t played many of the games, nor have I always been the biggest fan, but certainly Sonic is a SUPER important part of my history with gaming. So when the trailer and the game focused upon the classic entries to the Sonic series, which, despite not being actually alive for their initial release, it honestly hit a massive nostalgic nerve for me. It brought out this sleeping love for a silly 90’s mascot who hasn’t had the best of times recently but is still really cool in my eyes. The trailer just happened to touch upon all the nostalgic feelings I have for the franchise and thus brought it all out again – and so made me fall in love with Sonic anew.
But my nostalgia is not the only reason why the Mania trailer made me adore the Blue Blur, since it coincidentally hit the right aesthetic notes that I find appealing in this moment in my life. This is an argument that is kind of specific to me, but I think it’s still a valid one. Right now, I’m really appreciating 90’s aesthetics thanks to getting into artists such as Anamanaguchi or Shawn Wasabi, as well as due to the general resurgence of the visual style of my birth decade due to the Tumblr/Vaporwave culture that has popped up recently. Thus I was already pre-disposed to liking that sort of look before watching the trailer. Lo and behold, the game and the trailer holds that exact aesthetic I love of weird and colourful random geometry, kind of pastel electric colours, as well as 90’s gaming visuals. Aesthetically, Sonic Mania and it’s first trailer are exactly what I’m into, thus making me fall for the franchise again, since Sega is capitalizing, at least with this title, on that visual style.
Speaking of the company behind the title, another reason why I loved the trailer was the recent self-awareness the company has had. This time last year, CEO of Sega Games Haruki Satomi said that the company has betrayed the trust of the fans and wanted to improve the quality of their games moving forward. This initial apology certainly did win me over a bit because it was a genuine admission of their failure, and that’s quite endearing. But it was the valiant efforts of the Sonic social media accounts that really won me over. If you haven’t seen them, you really should. They don’t take themselves seriously at all, poke fun at the franchise in a way that shows they love it a lot. It’s always making fun of the ridiculousness of the Sonic games in an ironic manner that has kept me chuckling ever since it became the weird meme beast it is now. These extreme amounts of self-awareness and acknowledgement of the franchise’s faults, born from a genuine love for it, that made me pre-disposed to fall even harder for Sonic once the trailer for Mania came out.
The trailer was perfect aesthetically, emotionally and musically; the game itself also looks amazing. But it’s all those other factors of nostalgia, self-awareness from Sega and a current genuine interest in the aesthetics that the game uses that really made me fall for Sonic the Hedgehog again. I’m so so so excited for Sonic Mania, and I hope it doesn’t betray my trust. But hey, it’s already shaping up to be great, so I’m not too scared.